The War On Drugs And America 's Drug Problem

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Samuel Spitz D Block 5/19/2016 The War on Drugs Based on the success and failures of the drug policies of the past, what is the best strategy for the United States to implement to help America’s drug problem? Throughout time, United States drug policy has shifted dramatically. From all drugs being legal to Prohibition and the War on Drugs, the US has had conflicting ideas about what is best for society and American citizens when it comes to drugs. The current War on Drugs has resulted in countless arrests and years served in prison, and has disproportionately hurt minority communities, only to result in largely unchanged use and death rates for illicit substances. Marijuana, Heroin, and Cocaine have all become cheaper and more pure…show more content…
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, drug use was not seen as a problem in America. Opiates were used in health elixirs to treat all manners of diseases and ailments. As a result, many house wives became addicted to opiates, as did Civil War soldiers, which was referred to as “Soldiers’ Disease.” Society did not punish these addicts or believe that they were destroying society. That changed however in 1914 with the Harrison Narcotics Act which essentially made all drugs, with the exception of alcohol and marijuana, illegal to sell or consume without a license. The criminalization of alcohol followed suit with the 18th Amendment and Prohibition. A little more than 20 years after the Harrison Narcotics Act was passed, the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was passed, effectively making Marijuana illegal for growth, sale, and consumption. This path to a harsher treatment of drugs in America was not wholly successful, as Prohibition did not stop individuals from consuming alcohol and instead helped foster the creation of crime gangs which were overly violent and highly profitable. Although Prohibition was reversed in 1933 with the 21st Amendment, laws against other drugs remained, putting many individuals behind bars without preventing the import, sale, or use of drugs. These problems were exacerbated with the War on Drugs in the Nixon and Reagan Era. The hardline policy of the War on
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